San Francisco to block Mac purchases citing lack of environmental EPEAT certification

“San Francisco city officials say they are moving to block purchases of Apple desktops and laptops, by all municipal agencies, after the company removed a green electronics certification from its products,” Joel Schectman reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Officials with the San Francisco Department of Environment told CIO Journal on Monday they would send out letters over the next two weeks,informing all 50 of the city’s agencies that Apple laptops and desktops ‘will no longer qualify’ for purchase with city funds,” Schectman reports. “The move comes after CIO Journal reported that Apple had removed its laptops and notebooks from a voluntary registry of green electronics, called EPEAT. The standard, created jointly by manufacturers, including Apple, government agencies, and activist groups, requires that electronics products be designed for ease in recycling and higher energy efficiency. Apple requested that all 39 of its certified MacBooks and desktops be removed from the registry late last month, according to EPEAT staffers.”

“The move by city officials is largely symbolic. Only around 500-700, or 1%-2% total, of municipal computers are Macs, Walton estimated. In 2010, the last year for which the city has complete reports, the city spent $45,579 on Apple desktops, laptops and iPads (the last of which are not certifiable under EPEAT and would not be barred by the city’s policy.) That’s compared to a total of $3.8 million spent overall on desktops and laptops, in 2010,” Schectman reports. “‘Is there some significance? Yes. Major significance? No,’ said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, of Apple’s rejection of the standard. ‘Given the relatively small percentage [of organizations] that require 100% EPEAT-compliance, it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference to Apple.'”

Schectman reports, “‘We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT,’ said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, ‘and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Some people are just so aptly named. It’s wholly unsurprising that she holds a prominent place in San Francisco city government.

Adhering to environmental standards when better options arise is madness. Government is notoriously slow to adapt to new ideas, especially once old ideas are codified.

To recycle your Mac, iPad, iPhone and other products — if your product has monetary value, Apple will apply that value toward an Apple Gift Card — use the Apple Recycling Program.

If all you want is to dispose of your unwanted equipment — regardless of brand — Apple Inc. will help you do that. Apple contracts with Sims Recycling Solutions to responsibly recycle computers and displays from any manufacturer. Sims Recycling Solutions feature domestic processing facilities where a zero-landfill policy and proven sustainability give you peace of mind in knowing that your electronics will be managed responsibly. Just call 800-966-4135 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off. For more information about Sims Recycling Solutions, visit oem.srsapp.com/ApplePoweredBysims/.

More information about Apple’s extensive commitment to the environment here.

Related articles:
Apple pulls products from U.S. gov’t-backed ‘EPEAT’ green electronics list – July 7, 2012
Why Apple’s sealed, non-user-serviceable MacBook Pro with Retina display is a very good thing – June 22, 2012
Teardown of MacBook Pro’s Retina display shows off ‘engineering marvel’ – June 19, 2012
Teardown of MacBook Pro with Retina Display reveals soldered RAM, glued-in battery – June 13, 2012

AnandTech reviews Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display: Editor’s Choice; first Mac to ever receive one – June 23, 2012
AP reviews Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display: An epiphany, makes all other screens look dull and fuzzy – June 16, 2012
Reg Hardware reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Drool-worthy – June 15, 2012
USA Today reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Powerfully robust, an object of desire – June 14, 2012
ABC News reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: If you have the money, this is the one to buy – June 14, 2012
Engadget reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Redefines the professional notebook – June 13, 2012
PC Magazine reviews Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina display: Editor’s choice – June 13, 2012
Apple debuts new TV ad for MacBook Pro with Retina display: ‘Every Dimension’ (with video) – June 13, 2012
AnandTech analyzes Apple’s new MacBook Pro Retina display: ‘Everything is ridiculously crisp’ – June 12, 2012
Hands-on with Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina display (with video) – June 12, 2012
Apple unveils all new MacBook Pro with stunning Retina display – June 11, 2012

77 Comments

    1. MDN: “Adhering to environmental standards when better options arise is madness. Government is notoriously slow to adapt to new ideas, especially once old ideas are codified.”

      Perfect Take.

      1. It is a very good MDN Take, F10T12. I wholeheartedly agree that government standards and regulations require proactive maintenance to ensure that outdated or ineffective ones are eliminated, and that useful ones are updated to remain valid and effective in response to changes in technology, scientific knowledge, and society.

        However, you should consider that our governmental system intentionally includes friction in the form of checks and balances. Such friction is an essential part of protecting our personal freedoms and rights by inhibiting ill-considered changes and promoting adequate discussion of proposals and associated data. It is also intended to limit corruption by providing insight into governmental processes and opportunities for comment and challenges to proposals or initiatives. That friction can and does result in slow responses to rapid technological and social changes, such as privacy rights with respect to cell phones, the internet, email, texting, etc.

        But to generically blame “government” is, in some sense, to blame yourself. In the ideal sense, the U.S. government is of, by, and for the people. I am a bit curious regarding your ideas for improving government processes for standards and regulations. How would you solve these problems that appear to concern you so greatly?

      2. How is a sealed case unit with a glued in battery a better option. It will end up as e-waste instead of having the longer life of a repairable unit.

        Planned obsolescence – a.k.a. General Motors in the 1950s-1990’s. We all know how that turned out.

        1. Don’t be a idiot, it’s a small amount of glue, and anyone with a Brain would know that heat for a short period of time releases the glue.

          But then again no that hates Apple like for instance yourself would want any facts. Just keep trolling, your name is so far right that the only thing progressive is you hatred and trolling for this sight and even that is old.

        2. Apples battery is better quality and last much longer. Fewer cheap batteries flooding landfills. Do you want fewer high quality parts that last longer or cheap part that fail more offer and are replaced leaving more waste in the environment? I go with fewer.

      3. … reason. A good reason. Though the standard may be less than perfect.
        Which is why Apple opted out.
        NOT because it represented government interference.
        So, now would be the time to improve the standard. And, those like it.

    2. Wonder what the city tax hit would be if Apple closed all of it’s stores in the city of San Francisco?

      Wonder what the out cry from city dwellers would be?

      A bit drastic but it would put things into perspective for SF.

      1. Why punish Apple users for the actions of the San Francisco city officials? That makes no sense at all, especially since the city government already appears to be highly biased against Apple products, which represent only 1.2% of city spending on desktops, laptops, and tablets based on the data provided above.

        If the voters of San Francisco do not agree with the actions of their city officials, then they should make their voices heard by pushing their representatives to revisit the procurement requirement for EPEAT certification. That is the way that a representative democracy works, and Apple has the right to inform and encourage San Francisco residents accordingly.

        It does appear to me that Apple would have been better served by preparing everyone for this EPEAT withdrawal rather than just taking the action and watching the fallout. Apple could have released a statement explaining why it was taking this action and how its other environmental initiatives were superior to EPEAT in form and function.

  1. Doesn’t the Federal government also require 100% EPEAT compliance?

    I dunno about this move. Seeing a lot of reports that Apple’s reason for dropping out of EPEAT was wanting to use non replaceable batteries in Macs thus forcing the consumer to replace them every 18 months. Whether or not various parts of that story are accurate, it’s a potential PR disaster as not only government buyers, but everyday consumers will feel they’re getting fleeced.

    1. Seems like a vaguely similar scenario to the flash debacle. Apple quietly said that due to their own design directions & goals they didn’t want to include mobile flash in their mobile products. They didn’t trash flash r adobe, just quietly withdrew support.
      Then the adobe “grassroots” PR blog machine started up and began to trash apple. That provoked steve’s open letter, which made it painfully clear that flash would never be anything in mobile and likely wouldn’t even be around for that long.
      In hindsight everyone now understands how last century flash was (is) and how it it at the end of it’s life. (go adobe, you got what you deserved)

      Now we have apple quietly departing from a purportedly “green” standard. That even on the surface. should ring bells. We know to what lengths apple is willing to go to be a good citizen of the planet (cogeneration facilities, fuel cells, solar power, little use of plastics (particularly harmful, un recyclable or non-biodegradable) and real recyclability (like glass and aluminum) So go ahead self professed governmental protectors of the planet, make hay about this withdrawal. I have a feeling when we dig down through this big bag of trash we are going to discover what stinks at the bottom of the bag is going to be your dirty knickers.

    2. That’s the dumbest think I’ve ever heard. Perhaps the laptop batteries will be built-in similar to iPads and iPhones, but it’s easy enough to have a battery replaced rather than taking up space for the enclosure, having a rectangular battery (Apple could max the battery capacity with a strangely-shaped battery filling all nooks and crannies), etc.

  2. This is what happens when you have environmental fanatics in power. Everyone wants a clean environment, but this is ridiculous. Left-coast California deserves to be $17 billion in debt. And the Democrats just passed spending on a high speed rail line which will cost the state another $65 billion! I used to call them “tax and spend Democrats”. But they just can’t wait to spend money they don’t have, so it’s more accurate to call them “Spend and tax Democrats”.

    1. High speed rail is called “investing in the future”. I’m all for it, and in many other areas, I fall towards the libertarian area, fiscally at least. (e.g. get rid of Social Security, Welfare, Medicare..)

    2. Why is it that billions spent on an oil pipe (that benefits companies that already make huge profits) is good because it creates jobs, but that billions on rail is considered wasting money?

      1. Because billions spent on an oil pipeline would be mostly private money, with the construction only being allowed by the gov’t. Billions on rail is actual tax dollars being spent. There’s a difference.

    3. Not everyone in California agrees to what the elected nutbags are doing in Sacramento and that Browndoggle of a governor. Many of the libtards running this state are clueless, though well meaning. A dangerous combination. That high speed rail line is being tenaciously fought against here by those with some semblance of sanity. I agree though the state should go bankrupt so we can renegotiate those draconian public union contracts and reduce the power of unions and their influence.

  3. If they did not have thier head up thier ass, they would realize that the Macs would be more environmentally friendly, just from the aspect of crashes, data lost, man hours invested needlessly, and all the other PC costs to bottom lines and all environmental costs to support those man hours.

    1. Not very. It’s likely the end of EPEAT. Something about this whole thing just SCREAMS Adobe Flash. Maybe Apple already realizes that in 5 years anyone wanting to compete against them will have to leave EPEAT for the same reasons…

      Either EPEAT will alter their stance to take into account what Apple’s doing with their hardware, or they’ll be rendered mostly inert.

      1. I think EPEAT needs to be updated. When computers were built in tower cases and ten pound laptop cases it made sense to require that they be easy to disassemble and repair. As we move into the era where computers are built like iPads and MB Airs it makes less sense. At this scale connectors and screws add weight and cost and reduce reliability.

        If conforming to EPEAT adds weight and reduces reliability how does that achieve the ultimate goals of using less energy and resources?

  4. If you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair (and any other totally gay thing you can do to fit in).

    P.S. The proper response to ‘bad’ speech is ‘better’ speech. If you don’t like the above sentiment, tough shit.

    1. When San Fran finally cleaves off and sinks under the Pacific, nobody sane will shed a tear.

      All that’s wrong with America concentrated neatly into one major earthquake zone. There is a God!

      1. That’s right, San Francisco, city of Steve Jobs birth, home to Jony Ives and countless other humans, should sink beneath the waves of the Pacific.

        Who’s the fsking ‘tard now?

        1. @ Ellis D.

          Indeed, not everyone in San Fran is a kook. But the city obviously has far more than its fair share. Clearly “Pelosi is a tard” was speaking metaphorically.

          If one were to interpret his real life sentiment, it would probably be something like this:

          It would be nice if the more liberal, nitwit elements of San Francisco were shipped off to some 10,000-square-mile internment camp and told to make do without oil or petrochemicals or pesticides or childhood inoculations (because “pertussis is *natural* duuuuuude”). Once there, they would be told to survive on their own without outside help. Then those San Franciscan liberal nitwits would starve and hate life and grow up and get a brain. That would be about six months before they started eating each other to avoid starvation (because “Eating liberals is *natural* dude.”)

          1. Greg L and ‘tard’s ideas sound vaguely familiar.. Oh yeah I remember now.

            “Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany established about 20,000 camps to imprison its many millions of victims. These camps were used for a range of purposes including forced-labor camps, transit camps which served as temporary way stations, and extermination camps built primarily or exclusively for mass murder. From its rise to power in 1933, the Nazi regime built a series of detention facilities to imprison and eliminate so-called “enemies of the state.” Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Freemasons, disabled people and persons accused of “asocial” or socially deviant behavior. These facilities were called “concentration camps” because those imprisoned there were physically “concentrated” in one location.”

            God help us from destroying each other.. Please.

            1. Yeah, yeah! Let’s drop a neutron bomb on NYC!! Wipe out all the stupid people and leave the buildings!

              Problem solved. You’re welcome.

            2. Ditto. STFU. Earth-muffin nitwits are fair game for ridicule because they have a brain and refuse to use it.

              Like Winston Churchill said: “A man of 20 who is not a liberal has no heart. A man of 40 who is not a conservative has no head.”

            3. STFU huh?.. How is your proposal of a internment camp for people you disagree with any different from a Nazi concentration camp?

              That’s OK, I’ll wait for your witty fascist retort. (Tool.)

            4. You know, this article was a perfect opportunity for others to make fun of liberal kooks. You took all the ribbing hook, line & sinker.

              As I wrote above, earth-muffin nitwits are fair game for ridicule because their shortcomings are something they can improve: start using their brains.

              Rather than see what this thread is truly about—well deserved poking fun at the San Francisco libtards—you rose to the occasion by taking seriously a suggestion to relocate the libtards to an internment camp. And then you wasted no effort to pontificate about Nazis, thusly proving Godwin’s Law to be amazingly prescient.

              Lighten up, Light of Truth; ” rel=”nofollow”>Methinks thee doth protest too much.

            5. Internment camp idea linked to Nazis, not a big leap of logic there. So yeah, thanks for the Straw Man arguement set-up.

              I guess I should have referenced Japanese/American internment camps, or even better, the killing fields of The Khmer Rouge, to avoid ‘Godwin’s Law’ of all online arguments devolving into Nazi name calling.

              I’m sorry you seem to be so out of touch with your own humanity. Pity. We’ll wait for you to catch up. Really!

            6. Please dismount from your high horse, sir, for you blocketh the sunlight for the poor minions below. You also might clarify what you mean by “we”; so far, you are the only one perceiving Great Grief for fun being poked at libtards. Moreover, you seem intent on ignoring the advise a genuine “we” have been giving you to STFU. I’m quite done here responding to you since you are so full of yourself, you are about to explode. Next time around, please don’t confuse the fact that just because you have a keyboard in front of you, that this means your message is important. You come across as one of those kids who listened too intently when the teacher said “You’re Special™©®” and all that nonsense went to your head. I hope you turn out OK and actually pay taxes when you grow up. Adios.

            1. Alcatraz? Not big enough. They’d complain about lack of resources and all go on Welfare or demand some sort of handout from the “Government”; which is to say, tax-supplied money from someone else who actually works hard and works smart.

  5. Unless Apple has something better (and that has NOT appeared yet) San Francisco has done the right thing. Expect others to follow.

    The EPEAT rules are common sense, voluntary and Apple helped make the standard. If Ive wants to keep chasing the thinner locked up path with no user upgrades and sealed batteries they deserve to crash and burn. All this iTrash is ending up in the third world and is making people sick- sometimes fatally.

    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html

    1. Read the Take, knee-jerker:

      To recycle your Mac, iPad, iPhone and other products (if your product has monetary value, Apple will apply that value toward an Apple Gift Card) use the Apple Recycling Program.

      If all you want is to dispose of your unwanted equipment — regardless of brand — Apple Inc. will help you do that. Apple contracts with Sims Recycling Solutions to responsibly recycle computers and displays from any manufacturer. Sims Recycling Solutions feature domestic processing facilities where a zero-landfill policy and proven sustainability give you peace of mind in knowing that your electronics will be managed responsibly. Just call 800-966-4135 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off. For more information about Sims Recycling Solutions, visit oem.srsapp.com/ApplePoweredBysims/.

      1. +1 @Superior Being, and I also guarantee you that Apple’s method will wind up with the vast majority of used batteries actually being disposed of properly. In the past people would just order new batteries, snap the new battery in, and toss the old battery in the trash.

      2. Good point, Superior Being.

        San Franweirdo might do well to realize that lack of EPEAT compliance does not equate to “non-fully recyclable.” They can always write a letter to Apple asking them to explain whether recycling via Apple’s program means the devices are fully recycled; then San Fran can once again avail themselves of the best available computers and>/b> simultaneously feel all splendid about themselves and thoroughly smug (which is apparently very important in San Fran’s lives).

      3. I have seen it, but have no knowledge that they are doing what they claim to do. More than likely, it’s a greenwashing scam.
        Apple just needs to get over it and return the replaceable battery to the laptops and stop using odd fasteners just because Jobs was anal retentive about ‘sleekness’.

        1. As MDN said so well, “Adhering to environmental standards when better options arise is madness. Government is notoriously slow to adapt to new ideas, especially once old ideas are codified.”

      1. This is not a law passed “against” Apple. This is an internal directive against purchasing certain non-tablet Apple products by departments of the City of San Francisco. Apple can continue to be as environmental friendly-or not-as it chooses to be, and is under absolutely no constraints at all from the City with the passage of this directive.

        Whether you agree with this or not is beside the point. Both Apple, and the City, are free to do as they please.

  6. As a longtime Apple purchaser and someone working in the environmental/sustainability arena I find it disappointing that Apple is not taking the lead in finding solutions to producing products so they may stay within the spirit of EPEAT.

    1. Does anyone here even KNOW the spirit of EPEAT? I’m guessing Apple tried to engage in dialog with EPEAT with no success, which led to them leaving.

      1. Part of the standard is that equipment can be disassembled by technologically illiterate workers using commonly available tools (screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, etc.) This would limit Apple equipment to the same designs as Dell or Sony by requiring the use of screw fasteners instead of integral pieces. Would you prefer that Apple discontinue the one piece unibody design and go back to screwed together cases, for instance? EPEAT standards are outdated design restraints that favor cheap equipment over quality.

  7. New Mac models ARE green, if disassembled by PROFESSIONALS!
    In fact, they’re still the greenest of all!
    We could stop having anybody fumbling into high tech machines, anyway…

  8. Maybe Apple IS taking the lead…out the door and away from a failed (though well-intentioned) policy and forward into a more sustainable future. SF seems to regularly obsess upon the minutia of the law without understanding or appreciating the overall spirit or objectives of the real world. Sad really. Maybe they should dive whole into this philosophical path they are on, and outlaw the sale or consumption of food that is not 100% whole grown organically. Clearly they associate a “label” as being proof of validity. Apple has always been more about proving itself, rather than slapping a logo or emblem “claiming” something. I’m guessing there is a substantial Greenpeace presence in SF.

  9. Do the math on Apple & EPEAT — fees per product are based on company’s revenue and membership is based on revenue. 39 products * $52,790 + $87,310 = $2.1M / year for Apple to be part of that program.

    Apple can do math and must feel that the fees aren’t worth the margin stream they’ll get from participation. These government entities don’t buy Macs; they buy cheap Dells.

    Furthermore, iPad isn’t part of the program and Apple has that business pretty locked up.

  10. It seems to me that, currently, all the Apple products in Apple’s stores were certified by EPEAT The day before Apple left the listing. All those same products are in the Apple store today. As far as I can see, no changes have been made to the product line-up in the least week. So, If you purchased an Apple product today, it would be the very same one that met the EPEAT standards and, therefore, just as environmentally responsible as they were before. All this winging is utter nonsense!

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